«. g. ron W is T ng H hi IG et R om ut IS S b E L B I B E H T We pray this booklet will aid your study of the word of God, “which is able to save ...»
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We pray this booklet will aid your study
of the word of God,
“which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
A Publication of
WHITE OAK CHURCH OF CHRIST
2229 Lyndon Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37415
INTRODUCTIONSomething Is Wrong … Common sense tells us that something is wrong in the religious world today. When two different answers are given for the same mathematical problem, common sense tells us that one or the other is wrong. Both “four” and “five” cannot be correct answers to the problem of “two plus two.” It is conceivable that both may be wrong, but one must be wrong. The same common sense should tell us that something is wrong in the religious world when we have so many contradictory answers to questions having to do with the welfare of the soul. There are over 250 different churches in the world today. [At the time of this edition, internet databases claim some 33,000 to 41,000 “denominations” throughout the world!] The answers they give are different, in many cases flatly contradicting one another.
Many are closing their eyes to differences, saying it makes no difference what one believes, just so one is sincere. Men will not accept such reasoning in any field other than religion. Is religion less important? Is it as well to believe falsehood as it is to believe truth? We beg men everywhere to exercise the good common sense with which God has blessed them.
Still others, receiving the differing answers, have thrown up their hands, despairing of knowing what is right. But we need not despair, for there is one unfailing place to which we can go, in the full assurance that we can find the answers—that place is the Bible.
… But the Bible Is Right How blessed we are, in these days of confusion, to have the Bible! How fortunate we are we need not place our trust in the answers of men! The Bible is right.
The Bible is right because it is the word of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). God’s word is as dependable as God himself. All should accept the answers of God as the right answers.
The Bible is right because God’s word is truth. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Truth does not contradict itself. Men may give conflicting answers, but God does not. Because His word is truth, His answers are true. In fact, in the language of Hebrews 6:18, it is“impossible for God to lie.” Not only does the Bible give the right answers, but it answers all questions we need to ask. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” No man should want more than this.
The great need of today is more people who will take their Bibles in hand and let God give them the right answers.
1 —PART ONE—
THE BIBLE IS RIGHT ABOUT THE QUESTION OF SALVATIONMany answers are given in response to questions about salvation. Some say, “Only believe”; some, “Pray”;
some, “You are already either saved or lost.” Somebody is wrong, but the Bible is right.
There is something you can do. To those accused of crucifying the Lord, Peter said, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). Peter could say this because man has a part to play in God’s plan of salvation for the lost. This plan can be said to have two parts: heaven’s part and man’s part. God devised this plan, and Christ fulfilled it, by giving His own life’s blood for the sins of the world. The Holy Spirit has revealed the gospel plan of salvation, which is recorded in the New Testament. This is heaven’s part. If man had no part, we would have no need for concern, for heaven’s part has been well done. If we are lost, the charge cannot be laid to the forces of heaven, but only upon ourselves. Man has a part, and that part is humbly to submit himself in obedience to the plan of God, as it is revealed in the New Testament.
FOUR ESSENTIALS TO SALVATION
As we search the scriptures for the answer to the question of salvation, we find there are four things that are
essential to our being saved:
1. Faith is essential to salvation.
Jesus made faith a positive requirement when He gave the great commission, saying: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Again, we read, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). These and many other similar passages make it clear one cannot be saved without believing in Christ as the Son of God and as the Savior.
But there are other important questions that need to be answered concerning faith.
How is faith obtained? Some say that faith comes in answer to prayer. Others say that faith is bestowed by miraculous power when one is converted. The Bible says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In order to have faith, we must hear what God has to say. This indicates the great necessity of studying and preaching the Bible.
Does “faith only” save? There is a great need for answering this question. Many of the differing religious bodies stand in agreement that “faith only” saves. Some have written into their creeds: “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” But neither the agreement of the multitudes nor the statements of the creeds make “faith only” the right answer. The Bible says: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).
Here are two conflicting answers: “faith only” and “not by faith only.” Both cannot be right. The Bible
answer of “not by faith only” is right. Again, we read: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:
the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20). These passages do not teach against “faith,” but against “faith only.” We must not be guilty of taking the “do” out of the religion of Jesus Christ.
2. Repentance is essential to salvation.
Jesus said: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He charged the apostles “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). On the day of Pentecost, we find Peter honoring this charge, as he commands: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). It is evident, then, that one must not only believe, but one must also repent.
3. Confession is essential to salvation.
Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32, 33). It is possible for one to believe in Christ, yet fail to confess Him. “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). Here are some who believed on Christ. The Bible says they did. Yet, they would not confess Him. From this, one may see that more is necessary than “just believe.” The
one who believes must repent and confess his faith in Christ as the Son of God. In Romans 10:9-10, Paul said:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Different religious bodies require different kinds of confessions. Some require a confession of sins be made in the ear of a “priest,” while others require a confession of sinlessness by asking, “Do you believe that God, for Christ’s sake, has pardoned your sins?” Such confessions are without Bible authority. The Bible confession is a simple confession of faith in Christ as the Son of God. It was upon such a confession that Philip baptized the eunuch. After hearing the gospel, the eunuch said: “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-38).
4. Baptism is essential to salvation.
With one voice, all who advocate the doctrine of “faith only,” in opposition to the Bible doctrine of “not by faith only,” say that baptism is not essential. Just why anyone should want to make a commandment of the Lord non-essential is difficult to understand. If one can be saved without being baptized, then, baptism is certainly not essential. But what does the Bible say?
In giving the great commission, Jesus said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Who is the “he” that shall be saved? Jesus says it is he that “believeth and is baptized.” It is not belief minus baptism, but belief plus baptism. God has joined belief and baptism together, but some would put them asunder. Peter states, in the plainest of language, that baptism is for the remission of sins: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
A great many preachers today will not baptize a person “for the remission of sins.” Did Peter teach error on the day of Pentecost? Did Ananias misinstruct Saul? We can do no better than give the same instructions. We must not cut God’s plan short. Faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are all essential to salvation.
SALVATION “IN CHRIST”
1. How does one get in Christ?
We may think of the four essentials to salvation we have just considered as four necessary steps that place the lost in Christ. Faith, repentance, and confession are progressive and necessary steps; but these alone leave the sinner outside of Christ. The Bible teaches that baptism is the final step “into Christ”: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Romans 6:3 also teaches this fact: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” When one is baptized into Christ, one enters a sacred relationship that calls for newness of life: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
2. What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
We may see the importance of being “in Christ,” when we consider what being “in Christ” means.
In Christ we have all spiritual blessings: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
In Christ we are new creatures: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In Christ we have redemption: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
In Christ we are reconciled to God: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
What more could one ask than all these things? But, remember, the Bible teaches that baptism is “into Christ.”
SALVATION IN EXAMPLE
One of the best ways to learn what to do in order to be saved is to consider the God-given examples in the book of Acts. Just before His ascension into heaven, Jesus gave the great commission: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;
but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16). The book of Acts is an inspired account of carrying out that commission. Beginning in Jerusalem, according to instruction (Luke 24:46-47), the apostles began to preach the gospel, in order that lost sinners might be saved. God has seen fit to supply us with several examples of the plan of salvation in operation. By examining these cases of conversion, we can find out exactly what was done by them, in order to be saved. For the convenience of the reader, we have arranged these examples on the chart that appears in the center of this booklet.
Please investigate the chart and read the inspired accounts from your Bible. Upon investigation, one will see that the preaching of the gospel preceded each case of conversion. Preaching was necessary in order to produce faith (Romans 10:17). One also may note that every case culminated with the baptism of the person, or persons.
It is not specifically stated that each person believed, repented, and confessed; but we know the apostles, inspired of God, would not baptize one who did not believe, who was not repentant, and who would not confess Christ.
The fact the “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) assures us we can be saved by following the same plan.
When what is indicated concerning each case of conversion is compiled, we again must be impressed with the four essential steps: faith, repentance, confession, and baptism.
SALVATION AND OBEDIENCE